35 Years of Semiconductor Standards: Maximizing Value in a Challenging Industry

35 Years of Semiconductor Standards: Maximizing Value in a Challenging Industry Environment

By Bettina Weiss, SEMI

From the advent of the first commercial integrated circuit companies in the early 1960s, chip makers developed and built their own production equipment to fabricate the intricate microelectronic devices that spurred an electronics revolution. Later in the decade, independent companies were formed to supply the increasingly-specialized chip processing equipment and a new industry sector emerged. In 1970, the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute (SEMI) formed as a membership organization to support the growth of the semiconductor equipment and materials industry.

SEMI Standards quickly became a catalyst for growth in the new industry by creating efficiencies and speeding product development. In 1973, the SEMI Standards efforts began with the development of the first standardized silicon wafer size specifications which helped eliminate the waste created by over 2,000 different specifications in use at the time, and the subsequent silicon shortage. Over the next several decades, the SEMI International Standards Program expanded to many different semiconductor and flat panel display (FPD) manufacturing areas—as well as new and emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology, micro-electromechanical devices (MEMS), and photovoltaic. As the industry operations migrated around the world, the SEMI Standards program also expanded geographically, from a U.S.-centric effort in the early 1970s to a truly global program with committee and working group activities in Japan, Europe, North America, Korea, Taiwan, and China.

Now 35 years old, the SEMI International Standards Program addresses the technical breadth of innovation in a wide array of technologic advancements. The Program is now structured around 19 global technical committees. More than 200 task forces– many of them international– are currently active, providing the framework and focus to get the actual standards development done. The International Standards Committee (ISC) manages the program, and ultimate oversight is provided by the SEMI International Board of Directors. More than 1,800 volunteer experts are enrolled in the program to date, providing expertise, time, and dedication to develop critical new standards and safety guidelines. They also oversee the maintenance of existing documents, keeping them current and accurate. With more than 770 standards and safety guidelines on the books and about 200 documents under development, SEMI staff remains fully engaged in providing the necessary support, guidance, and infrastructure to enable the volunteers to focus on their task-- sound technical standards.

The complete article on SEMI Standards (originally published in Standards Engineering, March/April 2008) includes a discussion of:

  • Standards Value
  • Challenges (defining value, prioritization, industry consolidation, shortages, time)
  • Approaches (activity focus, new standards initiatives, partnerships, and SDO visibility)

Please click here to read the complete article.


Bettina Weiss is now Senior Director, Photovoltaic Segment (North America) at SEMI Global Headquarters in San Jose, California. Until recently, Weiss was Director of International Standards at SEMI. She can be contacted at bweiss@semi.org.

Reproduction Permission

This article is posted on the web site of the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute (SEMI) with permission of the Standards Engineering Society. The article was first published in Standards Engineering, the Journal of the Standards Engineering Society, Vol. 60, No. 2, March/April 2008. For subscription or membership information, contact: SES, 13340 SW 96th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33176. For additional information about the Society, go to www.ses-standards.org.